PM Ponta: Final form of Penal Code to be accepted by European Commission





Liberals say they will not vote the draft and law of amnesty.
The modifications operated by the Chamber of Deputies to the Penal Code continued to spark controversy over the weekend, with the liberals threatening that they will not vote the modifications or the amnesty law, with President Traian Basescu demanding the resignation of PM Victor Ponta and of the two speakers of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, and with protests of the civil society in Bucharest.
On the other side of the barricade, the social-democrats, headed by PM Ponta, assure that the draft law will have a final form agreed by the European Commission too.
Premier Victor Ponta said on Friday, in an interview to Radio France International, that the final form of the Penal Code would be accepted by the European Commission, especially after the consultations to be held with the Superior Council of Magistracy, with the Minister of Justice and the European Commission. When asked if the vote cast by the deputies early this week on the amendments to the Penal Code was a mistake, the Premier replied: “No, it wasn’t. It is a parliamentary initiative. (…) But it is very clear that it is a lack of consultation with the Superior Council of Magistracy, with the Minister of Justice, with the European Commission. I said very clearly that we could not adopt the legislation without consultations. Parliament must certainly observe the Constitution and this is always very difficult when we have an election campaign in the offing. Therefore this subject will exist next year too. I am very sure that, after the consultations, the final form of the law will be acceptable for the European Commission, not for the political opposition too. It would be impossible,” said the Premier.
The opinion is not shared by the liberals, who firmly affirmed the same day, through the voice of their leader Crin Antonescu, that the decision made “with imperative force” by the PNL leadership is that the lawmakers of the party will vote against the modifications to the Penal Code, and also against the law on amnesty. “Regarding the modifications to the Penal Code, which we will probably discuss after they return from the Constitutional Court or after they are sent for re-examining, we will vote against these modifications, all of them, in block, in order to avoid any controversy. At the same time, we ask the government and the ministry of Justice to prepare, in full transparency, by consulting everybody who is qualified for this, a draft modification that will solve these problems which indeed exist in the acting Penal Code and which are solutions meant to improve the structure and quality of this Code,” Antonescu said, quoted by Mediafax.
The PNL leader mentioned that, as concerns the modifications to the Penal Code, there is the proposal about drafting a new law in the government, via the Ministry of Justice.
Meetings…
After the controversy sparked by the modifications to the Penal Code, the deputies with legal background had several meetings in order to answer the criticism. Justice Minister Robert Cazanciuc on Friday had talks with representatives of the Juridical Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, the members of this committee went the same day to the embassy of the USA, which harshly criticised the modifications. Deputy Eugen Nicolicea explained that the committee presented the official point of view to the representatives of the US Embassy and the American diplomats will inquire in writing about any other problem they will find unclear. Asked about the liberals, who accused that they were not invited to attend the meeting at the embassy, Nicolicea answered that “there was no political or party meeting,” but one of the committee’s representatives. The Juridical Committee of the Lower House had already held talks Thursday, at the Parliament, with representatives of the embassies of the UK, Netherlands and France. After this meeting, the Dutch ambassador said that he will study the texts he received and that “it is very important for us to discuss the national legislation together.”
On the other hand, the chief of the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA), Laura Codruta Kovesi criticised on ‘Gandul Live’ that the institution she leads was not consulted over the modifications and no public debate existed on them, the consequences being serious.
“We have over 28 files in court in which senators or deputies were charged with acts of corruption. DNA sent in court over 100 cases of mayors probed for corruption acts,” Kovesi said, adding that the provision will also benefit to the ministers who were members of the Parliament when they committed the deeds. Furthermore, she explained that a provision of the new Code of Penal Procedure will render “useless” the phone tapping, as the person will have to be informed that it is under criminal investigation before tapping the phone. Prosecutor General Tiberiu Nitu has not taken a position yet over the controversial modifications, thus becoming a target of the criticism voiced by President Basescu. “Did you see any reaction from Nitu? I am grateful for DIICOT and DNA being secured with prosecutors that proved to be honest in the fights against corruption,” the president mentioned.
…and protests
Yesterday, some 1,000 people gathered at University Sauqre downtown Bucharest to protest against the amendments brought to the Penal Code by parliament. ‘Shame!’ ‘Penal Parliament, are you running from the law?’ ‘Superimmunity? No shit’ they shouted, according to Hotnews. Approximately 1,500 people attended Saturday, at the Victoriei Square, a protest rally organised by the People’s Movement against the modifications to the Penal Code, demanding the resignation of the Ponta government, the dissolution of the Parliament and early elections.
Insult and slander regain status of crimes, prostitution no longer a crime
The controversy over the modifications brought to the Penal Code does not stop only at canceling the status of civil servants for the members of the Parliament and for the president of the country. Another disputed provision is re-incriminating insult and slander, which came under fire also from the OSCE representative for the media, which demanded authorities to remove it from the draft. On the other hand, the new Penal Code no longer treats as a crime the prostitution, which was being punished with prison from 3 months to 3 years until now.

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